Google Assistant is a big deal for Google this year, and we’re expecting the company to announce quite a bit regarding its AI at I/O 2017, starting tomorrow. Personally, there are a few things I’m hoping to see, let me explain…
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New features from Google Home – Reminders, Daily Briefing, Casting, etc
The biggest thing I want Google to work on with Assistant is improving Google Home. The smart speaker does a lot of good things, but some of the features it still lacks are mind-boggling. First and foremost there are reminders. There are hints in the latest Google Home app that this functionality is coming, and I’m really hoping Google makes that official at I/O.
Further, I’d like to see some basic functions added to the device, like a sleep timer for music and an audible tone for feedback when the device is heard, or at least an option to do so. (Update: Apparently this already exists, thanks commenters!) Right now, all that shows when Google Home hears you is a ring of lights, but that doesn’t do me any good when I’m in bed or looking in any other direction.
The last thing I’d love to see Google add to Home is a casting option for its “My Day” feature. This is one of the things on the Amazon Echo Show that caught my attention, and it would be excellent for Google to add something similar to Home, but instead of playing on a built-in screen, having the device cast that to a nearby Chromecast.
More third-party Assistant hardware
Another thing I’m really hoping Google will take advantage of at I/O is introducing new hardware partners. Google Assistant is a powerful tool, and I can really see manufacturers implementing it in some interesting ways. For example, a compact, Echo Dot-like smart speaker would be an excellent addition to the Assistant family. Adding Assistant to unique form factors or home appliances would also be great to see.
Google Assistant on Android TV
Google announced that Assistant would make its debut on Android TV at some point this year, and personally, I’m very excited to see this happen. Based on the few minutes I spent trying the feature out with Nvidia at CES, I can see the potential, especially with Nvidia’s always-listening controller and Spot accessories.
Assistant on Android TV is also going to make it easier for anyone with an Android TV device to browse content, complete searches, and even control their home. I can easily see this replacing a Google Home for many, as it probably will for me, so I’m hoping that I/O will give us the launch of this feature, or at least a more concrete launch date for this functionality.
Better wake word recognition with improved integration across multiple Assistant-enabled devices
One of the cool things about Google Home is that it can take over from the Assistant on your phone or watch, so you don’t have to worry about duplicating an answer on multiple devices. However, there are a lot of scenarios where this becomes more of a curse than a blessing.
Sometimes, I want to talk to the Assistant on my phone and not on Home, but I don’t get the option if Home hears me. This is something Google needs to refine, even if it’s as simple as detecting the phone or watch is the one that heard your voice the clearest. There just has to be a better way.
I was hoping at launch that the “Hey Google” command would be the simple solution, but months later that command still only hears me about 2/3 of the time, if that. Wake word recognition is something else Google needs to improve, as, with any command, Home is just getting worse and worse with recognizing voices. Regardless of what I say, over the past couple months, I feel like I have to repeat the command to get Home to hear me, and friends with the device have been telling me the same.
Home mesh Wi-Fi combo
Lastly, I’d love to see Google reveal or at least confirm the Google Home/Google Wifi combo we heard about a few months ago. Combining these two devices would make for a fantastic product, especially at the right price point. Ideally, I’d love to see this device look a lot like the current iteration of Google Wifi, but with always-listening Assistant capabilities in every extension router.
And that’s it. That’s what I’d personally love to see Google announce for Assistant this week at Google I/O. What’s on your wishlist? Let us know in the comments!